Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Callaloo refers to a few types of amaranth, plus taro and malanga leaves, plus the Jamaican and Trinidadian dishes made from them. It took me years to conclude that there is no "real" single callaloo, though most often it is a type of amaranth, often with some red in the leaves. At Brittany's permaculture event I met a woman I'd known previously just on FaceBook, and she kindly brought me in a small brown bag what she described as a BARELY mature seed head of a Callaloo that she and others had discussed on FaceBook....I checked the seed head today and she was right....not that many black seeds but definitely enough to share with a few friends to spread both the risk and the opportunity next spring. What caught my attention in that FaceBook discussion was the GIGANTIC-NESS of the form of Amaranth these women were growing as a bright green Callaloo...8-12 feet! They say it self sows well, does best in summer but can do okay in a mild winter. Today I scattered a SMALL number of seeds in my kitchen garden and in my southeast bed out back to see if they come up after winter rains. I grew many Amaranths for the Rodale Institute in my Denver garden in the 90s where they thrived in summer....I suspect this one would too. I MAY have encountered it Saturday when I paid my first visit to the Seminole Heights Community Garden on the way home from The Bird House Buying Club/Taste of the Heights event...when I entered the gate I immediately noticed some HUGE, BRIGHT green amaranths whose stalks easily were the size of my wrist, and even though they'd been topped they were taller than me. VERY robust, healthy-looking plants not in the garden beds but the paths where I guess they'd self sown. I nibbled a young leaf.....very tender, only the slightest bitterness vs. some very strong ones I've tasted since 1987. I wish I'd had my camera with me! Amaranth on steroids and crack! I'll ask these women if they can save me a full size, fully mature seed plume so I can be sure to adequately spread it around. Like a few of my friends who've influenced me, I'm now making smoothies using the Ninja blender that Mary Jo got me, and I can imagine these very mild, tender, super-nutritious leaves being useful that way. Plus I want to try some of the traditional Jamaican callaloo recipes. I gather that cooked it closely resembles spinach. From what I saw while Googling "callaloo", this giant bright green amaranth MIGHT be A. gangeticus (sp?) so I will pursue that lead. The only amaranth I've eaten that was this mild and tender is the PETITE green Pig Weed that self sows in a few of my baby pool Water Wise Container Gardens.

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